US Suspends Food Aid to North Korea Over Rocket Launch

March 28, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Epoch Times Photo
This picture taken by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on March 25, 2012 shows Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung square crammed with people for a national memorial service on the 100th day since the death of late leader Kim Jong Il. (AFP/Getty Images)

A U.S. official said on Wednesday that North Korea will not receive 240,000 tons of food aid because it is insisting on carrying out a rocket launch next month, in violation of a moratorium-for-food-aid deal the two countries recently made.

Peter Lavoy, acting assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific affairs, told AFP that North Korea’s announced plan to launch a satellite into space “reflects their lack of desire to follow through on their international commitments and so we’ve been forced to suspend our activities to provide nutritional assistance to North Korea.”

Several weeks ago, before the announcement of the rocket launch, North Korea and the United States came to an agreement that Pyongyang would not conduct missile or nuclear tests in exchange for food. The isolated, communist country has been hit with numerous famines over the past several decades and depends on donations to feed its population.

Lavoy added that the United States believes it is impossible “to ensure that the food assistance goes to the starving people and not the regime elite,” which has been a common theme in the past, the news agency reported.

“This planned launch is highly provocative because it manifests North Korea’s desire to test and expand its long-range missile capability,” said Lavoy. The launch has been condemned by the United Nations, the European Union, Japan, and South Korea.

North Korea, via state-run media, said it “will not give up the satellite launch for peaceful purposes, which is a legitimate right of a sovereign state and requirement essential for economic development.”